False Alarm Update: Tampa, Cincinnati and Vacaville

LOS ANGELES

Hillsborough County in Florida, which includes the city of
Tampa, is considering raising the fees for repeat false
alarm offenders to as much as $500. Meanwhile, a new law
requiring security alarm registration went into effect in
Cincinnati, Ohio, Oct. 20. Additionally, the town of
Vacaville, Calif., is considering a verified response
initiative.

In response to the 170 false alarms they say they’re
dealing with each day, Hillsborough County sheriff’s
deputies are asking county officials to institute stricter
fees for alarm owners and make it easier to collect them.
The fee plan would allow two false alarms at the same
address per year before charging $25 for a third and
increasing the fine incrementally until it tops out at $500
for the seventh offense. Currently, Hillsborough allows
three false alarms per year before charging $25 for each
subsequent false alarm. The city of Tampa, with its own
jurisdiction, allows city residents three false alarms
before charging $40 per false call after that for the life
of the security system.

Carla Casey, who has an alarm system on her family’s home
in Riverview, Fla., told the Tampa Tribune that she
considers the county’s proposed fees too high. “I
understand the point behind it, but I think those fees are
excessive,” she said.  Ray Youchler, director at large for
the Alarm Association of Florida and owner of Active
Security Co., told the Tribune alarm companies in
Florida are taking the issue seriously. “It has been our
No. 1 issue for the last five years,” he says. “Instructing
people in how to use the equipment, that’s one of the main
factors for not having false alarms.”

Cincinnati, also in an effort to prevent false alarm, began
enforcement of a new law Oct. 20 requiring all security
alarm systems be registered, free of cost. The law, passed
by the Cincinnati City Council this past summer, will allow
Cincinnati police officers to issue fines to those failing
to register.

While neither Hillsborough County or Cincinnati aren’t
opting for verified response, police in Vacaville, Calif.,
are asking the city’s council for such a plan. Police
officials will address the council in December with a new
policy that would require local alarm companies to verify
the need of police assistance through a resident, neighbor
or security guard before sending out an officer. Police
would continue to automatically respond only to silent
panic or duress alarms triggered by users.

Vacaville Police officials tell the Daily Republic
that of the average of 17 burglar alarms they respond to
each day, 16 are false alarms.  However, Jon Sargent,
northern vice president of the California Alarm
Association, tells the Daily Republic that the
Vacaville Police proposal could cause a greater
problem. “Verified response is a flawed solution,” Sargent
says. “It creates a much larger public safety issue.”

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